"One learns a landscape finally not by knowing the name or identity or everything in it, but by perceiving the relationships in it- like that between the sparrow and the twig. The difference between the relationships and the elements is the same as that between written history and a catolog of events."
Barry Lopez, from Crossing Open Ground
In the late 1990's, I purchased a utility van and converted it into a large-scale, mobile pinhole camera and began working on a series of landscape pinhole photographs. A great deal of experimentation occrued in the creation of the camera.
The van has been transformed into a light-tight box consisting of a series of black curtains that allow access to the inside of the camera area without exposing the negatives. The negatives are 16 x 20 inch sheets of photographic paper arranged in a grid formation on a large, moveable wall. This wall allows me to adjust the lens length of the camera so I can choose between a wide-angle or telephoto effect. The exposure is controlled with a wrist watch and a simple piece of black electrical tape that covers the 1/16 inch hole in the copper aperture plate. Exposure times vary depending on the amount and strength of the light. On a bright day, the normal exposure time is approximately three minutes. The large images (ranging from 16 x 20 inches to 4 x 6 feet) created with this camera incorporate the elements of risk and surprise inherent in the pinhole process.
The desire to photograph landscapes evolved out of the need to explore the outside world; a place where space and objects often allude to relationships, emotions and memories we experience on the inside; interiors that consist of self, family and home. This particular project evolved out of my desire to examine and record the way our society develops and manipulates the landscape to fit our needs.
Having accepted risk and surprise as a part of the process, I have begun to respond more intuitively to objects in our landscape. In the past, I primarily photographed portraits and interiors using a view camera; a calculated and controlled process that seems to be the antithesis of how I create these pinhole images. The pinhole van provides the scale, mobility and stark aesthetic quality I desire in depicting these landscapes.